Friday 4 April 2008

status: settled


s greeted me this morning with the words to a pet shop boys song:

This is my application
Give me hope
Keep me sane
Give me indefinite leave to remain

i must have exhibited the proper mix of hopefulness and sanity (combined with a smile and no shortage of documents) because i left the croydon public enquiry office this afternoon with the coveted ILR stamp in my passport!

this entire visa process has been interesting, to say the least. for example, a large part of obtaining ILR is being able to prove that you do not need access to public funds. so i brought around 80 documents - bank statements, pay slips, mortgage, council tax bills, HM revenue & customs letters, ISA statements, etc. - showing that s and i are fully employed, own the flat, and have been living together for the past two years. but as soon as my ILR was granted, i became eligible for public funds if needed. my rights are now effectively the same as a british citizen, minus a UK passport and the ability to vote here. not bad.

i did feel weird about reducing two years of marriage to a folder full of bank statements, though. at least for my spouse visa, s and my sister wrote letters of support, and we included photos, blogs, emails, xmas and birthday cards... you know, the stuff that makes it personal. fortunately, my life with s is not usually about the legal contract or the evidence of funds and accommodation, but is based on shared laughs, seats next to each other on planes to exotic destinations, text messages asking who will pick up some milk on the way home. thankfully, most of this bureaucracy (and the accompanying fees! cha-ching!) is now behind me.

and i am feeling distinctly settled. calm in the knowledge that even if i don't become a dual citizen, i can live here happily with s for as long as we want. reassured that our marriage is now a true marriage, not a visa marriage. relieved that the UK makes it relatively quick and painless to gain settlement - truly, two years is not that long. sad for some of the people in croydon who did not have it as easy as i did, but grateful for advice from friends and other people who have been through the process.

in case you have not noticed, i have become more interested in immigration issues, and have started bookmarking articles on my (see sidebar.) just because i have reached this point does not mean that i will stop now. i fully intend to apply for british citizenship, and to continue to help people where i can. in another life, i would love to study immigration law but for now i will content myself with online forums and news articles.

so that's my news. how are we planning to celebrate? well, we need to go buy a new fridge. ours died earlier this week. but i think i will ask s to play that song again for me, first...


Martina Dove said...

All you got were the pet shop boys lyrics? My suggestions would have been: craft room...passionate encounter to celebrate your married life...a pony etc.

Anonymous said...

Branwyn, congratulations!!!! I'm so happy for you! Believe me, I understand the hard work and the organization required for said achievement. Leaving Croydon with the proper stamp is definitely worth celebrating!